Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knife Crime - Continues to Decline

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I have had a number of things occupying my mind in the real world and have been unable to post as much as I would have liked. However, here I am, and hopefully I will be able to get a few more posts under my belt as things settle down.

You may remember a little while back I posted on the reality of crime within the UK, particularly in relation to the media feeding frenzy related to knife crime. There have been a number of excellent posts in various other places regarding this matter in the past few days and weeks (see Obsolete and Five Chinese Crackers for more) perhaps in anticipation of the newly announced crime statistics. Before we go into those, a little reminder of my original post (just in case you didn't hit the hyperlink).

My original post noted the following:

So what about the statistics regarding knife crime? Well, according to the BCS, weapons were used in 24% of 'violent incidents'. Given that violent incidents stand at around 2,471,000, that means that 593,040 involved the use of a weapon. In terms of knives, 7% of 'violent incidents' involved the use of a knife. That means that there were approximately 172,970 'violent incidents' involving knives during 2006/7. What is also interesting, however, is that 'violent incidents' involving a so-called 'hitting implement' (which includes sticks, clubs and 'other hitting implements') was around 6% and incidents involving 'glass/bottles' was around 5%. Strangely, we don't hear many politicians speaking out about the rise in bottle/glass crime, perhaps it's not as catchy.

So, that was the story in last year's report, what about this year. Well, it seems to have actually got a little better. The amount of violent incidents involving weapons has remained broadly static at 24%. But what about the biggie, what about knife crime? Last year knives were used in 7% of all violent incidents, this year it was 6%. 6%!! Now, you don't need to be a mathematician to see that the use of knives in violent crime has gone down a whole percentage point. Not bad considering we are, if the media are to be believed, in the middle of an epidemic. However, as the use of knives in violent incidents has gone down, other weapons have gone up. Hitting implements were used in 7% of all violent incidents (hitting implements include, as we have discovered, sticks, clubs etc) compared to 6% last year. So, whilst violence involving knives has actually gone down, violent incidents involving sticks have gone up. Time to enact a stick amnesty I think.

Now, of course, it is a little more complex than that. Knives can obviously kill, whereas a nasty incident with a stick will, at worst, leave you with an overnight stay in hospital. However, the trend has continued downwards for all incidents of violent crime since 1995 when it reached it's peak. There was an overall decline by 8% incidents of violent crime compared to the previous survey, and such incidents are, in actual fact, at their lowest level since 2002. In short, the hysteria doesn't fit the facts. This perhaps the safest period in modern UK history, and yet the media and the political elite have tried their best to stoke the flames of fear (and have succeeded to a certain extent). You have never been safer, no matter what the Mail et al tell you.

Full report - you can read the full findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime here.